Business of Baseball Report

The Bids Are In

First off, if you didn’t get a chance to read John Brattain’s excellent column on the Nationals sale, be sure to check it out.

Major League Baseball received seven bids for the Washington Nationals, and while nobody is certain, sources are saying that the bids have come in at around $310 to $350 million for the team and around $400 million for the team and MLB’s portion of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). Two surprises came out of the whole process. The first was that only seven bids were received when nine were expected. It appears that MLB is giving the two remaining bidders some extra time to get their bids in. The second surprise was that billionaire fund manager George Soros joined one of the groups that’s bidding for the team. This followed last week’s entry of Colin Powell into the mix. So there are definitely some high profile names involved.

True to form, Bud Selig and company haven’t announced a “next step.” Of course money isn’t the only issue because Selig will be looking for someone on the same page as himself and the other owners. While Bud has said he hopes to have a new owner by mid-summer, most baseball insiders justifiably feel that this fall is a better target.

Twins get Special Session

I had received word late last week from John Krapek, a legislative clerk for the Minnesota Senate and a baseball blogger, that a special session was imminent, and his information was right on point. Since the state budget has not been resolved, that’s the top priority of the special session. Also on the list of things to take care of is the Hennepin County sales tax bill that would get the Twins their new stadium.

It’s also been reported that the stadium proposal includes a provision that would force Twins owner Carl Pohlad to share the proceeds if he were to make a quick sale of the franchise. Many thought this provision was important because the value of a team usually jumps with a new stadium, especially a good deal like the one that Pohlad’s getting. So it’s in there to protect them, basically from themselves.

No Go For Instant Replay

This might be one of those rare instances when I actually agree with Bud Selig. Mark the date folks. Bobby Cox, Felipe Alou, and Frank Robinson have all come out in favor of putting some kind of instant replay rule into effect, but Bud Selig has come out against it. He points to a new rule that went into effect in 2001 that requires all four umpires to keep tabs on the ball and allows them to meet and discuss any disputes that might arise without needing an instant replay rule.

Maybe it’s just the purist in me, but I’d prefer not to see Alan Trammell tossing a red flag out on the field every game to protest some call. In addition, if each manager gets one protest, that slows the game down by upwards of ten minutes.

Virginia Throwing in the Towel

Late last week, the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority (VBSA) closed its office in northern Virginia. This brings a formal end to the organization’s 13-year effort to bring a major league team to the area. With the Expos’ move to Washington, D.C., the chances of northern Virginia landing a team are practically zero. At the end of the final meeting, Authority Executive Gabe Paul, Jr. announced that he was forming a new venture, The Capital Sports Consulting Group, which will provide sports business consulting services.

Cardinals Hike Prices for Interleague Play

While trying to take advantage of the final season at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals hiked ticket prices by $8 for the two interleague series taking place this week. Despite the hike in prices, the series against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have sold out. The club expects to bring in an additional $2 million in revenue by raising the prices of 15 home games this season, and to date the fans haven’t seemed too concerned about it.

Nike Drops Giambi

While Jason Giambi has gotten his batting average comfortably above the Mendoza line, the damage to his wallet continues as Nike chose not to renew its shoe deal with him. Both Pepsi and Arm & Hammer have also dropped him from their ads in recent months, and representatives of Louisville Slugger have said they’ll make a decision on renewing Giambi when his contract with the company expires at the end of the season.

Selig Promotes Solomon

Jimmie Lee Solomon was named Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations. The job was formerly held by Sandy Alderson, who left to take over as chief executive of the San Diego Padres. Solomon has been involved in the league since 1991 in a variety of capacities.

Ruth Sale Contract Up for Auction

The six-page contract that details the sale of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for $100,000 is up for auction at Sotheby’s this week. The auction is set to be completed on June 10, and the contract is expected to net $500,000. The current owner, Rhode Island philanthropist Alan Feinstein, plans to give the proceeds to Second Harvest, a hunger relief charity.

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